Friday, January 15, 2021

Pilot Review: Call Your Mother

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

What I’m Watching: Search Party

Search Party: Season 4, Episode 3 “Escape to Nowhere” (B+)

I’m glad that each of Dory’s best friends, who came to her in a hallucination in a moment of need, are finally starting to realize that all isn’t right and that maybe Dory didn’t just run off to Europe. Elliott finding out from his irate wedding planners that no one died at his wedding wasn’t quite as startling as Drew seeing his sweater in Dory’s Italy picture, and hopefully they’ll talk about those inconsistencies and come to a helpful conclusion. Portia is also coming around to the idea that Dory isn’t so terrible as she begins what’s going to be an incredibly cringe-worthy job playing her former best friend in a project that she already feels is far too fictionalized. Dory was always the most intrepid of the group, and so I don’t have too much faith in the other three, especially considering their recent life choices. Making up a friendversary and starting a food fight to get back into that shower was quite resourceful, and she really is starting to understand how Chip works and what’s going to get him to do exactly what she wants. I’m not sure that’s going to be too useful going forward after her successful escape attempt ended in a car crash and Chip just tracking her down again. I do hope that the very nosy neighbor played by Ann Dowd from “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Good Behavior” will show up to unknowingly help her escape again, and I’m continually impressed by this show’s superb casting.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

What I’m Watching: Search Party

Search Party: Season 4, Episode 2 “Something Sharp” (B+)

Dory is trying her hardest to find a way out of her captivity and seems to be making Chip much angrier in the process. Forcing him to give her a shower always enabled her to escape, but now he’s threatened deadly retaliation if it happens again and is not going to be nearly as enthusiastic about preparing her something other than the same exact meal three times a day. The sight of those many stickers on the door and wall as a marker of time was haunting, and Chip’s repeated insistence on his many degrees that confirm his sanity are hardly convincing. The fact that he’s keeping up her social media to make it seem like she is indeed traveling through Europe is a surefire way for no one to express enough interest to affirm their authenticity. Portia also called not to ask her permission but to tell her that she was going to do what she wanted no matter what she said, and that’s not exactly the best position for any kind of relationship. There would have been something far too meta about Portia playing herself – which only she would be interested in – and the notion of her portraying Dory instead is just bizarre and should be plenty awkward. Elliott selling his soul for a paycheck and fame wasn’t too surprising, but it will be hard even for him to give up this ultra-conservative act. Drew’s situation is the most unexpected, since he’s now going by Andrew, posing as a foreigner with no discernable accent and engaging in a relationship with a woman playing a princess while having the truthful time of his life being a character in costume.

What I’m Watching: Search Party (Season Premiere)

Search Party: Season 4, Episode 1 “The Girl in the Basement” (B+)

I really like this very odd show, and I’m happy that this season will air over a longer stretch of time this year, following previous rollouts of one week, two episodes per week, and the entire season in just one day. Three episodes at once with four the third week feels fine to me, and, while I’m writing this review, I’m already looking forward to the next two installments that I’m about to watch. I was worried that the main storyline might be a bit creepy and disturbing, with Dory now being held captive with a shaven head and chains all around her by her delusional wannabe best friend Chip. While there is definitely something unnerving about it, Dory did embrace her notorious celebrity status in a big way in season three and literally got away with murder. Now, it’s intriguing to see how she’s trying to manipulate the man holding her hostage, and I assume that her cleverness is only going to get her into more trouble. What I enjoyed most about this episode was the way we saw Elliott, Portia, and Drew react to the note that was so clearly not left by Dory but that they didn’t even suspect might have been written by someone else. It’s going to take them a while to even realize that Dory has been kidnapped and not gone off to discover herself in Europe. I’m not sure how they’re going to spend their time this season, aside from Elliott doing his talk show and some weird drunken threesome make-out sessions, but I am very excited to see what they do and just hapless they are as their friend could really use their help.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Pilot Review: Trickster

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 5, Episode 6 “Birth Mother” (B-)

This show is so flashback-heavy in general that episodes which find themselves grounded almost entirely in the past are never as satisfying. That’s due mainly to the fact that the regular cast members are appealing and it’s disappointing not to see them featured. Knowing that Randall isn’t any less blunt with people he’s just met about things he perceives as wastes of his time is informative, and unfortunately Hai would have liked if his comment about the story being like “The Notebook” had in fact been true. The chronicling of Laurel’s past wasn’t a very positive one, with a harsh prison sentence and an unrequited love interrupted by that resulting in a reunion far too late in life and into her disease. I’m not sure what this newfound knowledge is going to do for Randall and how necessary its inclusion was – even though I was gung-ho about this new twist at the end of the premiere – since he was already going through plenty and coming to grips with some of his most formative issues without this being part of it. Choosing to call Kevin in the car on the way home was an interesting move, and it seems like he may have waited too long since he was already distracted, panicked, and not open to the idea of taking that moment to be appreciated and thought of by his brother. Even though it’s a pandemic, hopefully Randall will choose to show up in a good way and try to mend the relationship that Kevin’s not able to concentrate on fixing right now.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

What I’m Watching: Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist: Season 2, Episode 2 “Zoey’s Extraordinary Distraction” (B+)

I’m impressed with the way that this show is building on its established elements and making them work even better as it continues to develop. Zoey’s gift has always been a somewhat awkward part of the show since the characters don’t know that they’re singing their heart songs, and there’s a uniqueness to Max since he knows it’s happening but isn’t aware of exactly what Zoey hears. His inability to stop focusing on baseball and alternately getting way too excited was entertaining and also uncomfortable, and it was wonderful to hear Zoey say that she knew the song he was singing and opt to duet with him, even if he wouldn’t be able to hear his part and there was no music to score hers. That’s a cool way of adapting to something she can’t understand or change, and it helped her get to a better place with other problems in her life, like the bro culture at work that she’s actively working to change with Leif and Mo’s worries about partnering in business with Max. I’m not sure either of those will go completely smoothly, but it’s nice to see them both proceeding positively after an uncertain start. Jenna’s visit was an excellent opportunity for Maggie to step in and help provide both her and her sister with some much-needed support, not to mention a worthwhile song performance. I like that there’s some variety to the types of songs that are being featured and the different energies that are being conveyed in them.

What I’m Watching: Coyote

Coyote: Season 1, Episode 4 “Juan Doe” (B-)

It’s hard to shake the notion that there’s far too much access to almost everything that the cartel needs to make holding anything over Ben’s head at all worthwhile, but he did get tapped to do the one thing only he could: walk into an immigration detention facility and try to simply escort a detainee out. That went somewhat awry, leading to a violent double beheading that seems like it would attract far too much attention from American law enforcement. It makes little sense that the sicarios wouldn’t be able to follow them through the hole he cut in the fence – or just shoot them from the other side – but killing two government employees, leaving them with no heads, and freeing a group of detainees wouldn’t be seen as too potentially visible? I also found myself mapping out the distance between Guerrero and the California-Mexico border, which is apparently very far and would take more than thirty-six hours to travel, which explains why Dante was so upset to return to Guerrero again. The opening flashback to the scarring experience endured by Sultan was informative about his worldview, and his uneager participation in this episode’s activities make it unlikely that he might have a soft spot for Ben and somehow help him. Instead, there’s a new member of the family for Ben to contend with, someone who seemed anonymous but is apparently much more influential than he first thought and might have different plans for Ben than El Catrin, which isn’t likely to be a good thing.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Take Three: Coyote

Coyote: Season 1, Episode 3 “Sin of Origin” (B-)

One frequent facet of TV and movies is that characters will be trapped in an inescapable situation in which they are forced to do something only they can do, yet somehow those pulling the strings have seemingly unlimited resources to tail them constantly and exert influence over everyone in their lives, no matter how safe they may theoretically be. That begs the question of why that person is so necessary in the first place, if the cartel was able to track Ben’s movements, find out he called Frank, and bring him to Mexico in the trunk of a car within a few hours. What can Ben do that they can’t? He also can’t naively expect that they’re going to let him go if he does do what they ask, which wouldn’t be smart given that El Catrin’s promise that Dante can take care of him once he’s served his purpose. I would also have thought that Ben would have seen Neto as an ally even if he did look the other way with the cartel rather than someone he needed to hold at gunpoint to get to the private plane that he thought was taking him back home. He does have Silvia and the guy nice enough to help him do a good deal of work on the house without realizing Ben just wanted him there for his cellphone, but that doesn’t seem like it’s going to be enough to get out of this mess. Acting normal in front of his wife and daughter who don’t realize that Frank is dead is likely to be the most difficult part of it all.

What I’m Watching: Your Honor

Your Honor: Season 1, Episode 6 “Part Six” (B)

Well, now we know how this show is going to be able to continue for four more episodes. It took the entire hour for Jimmy to find Michael, who was completely distracted with hunting down Trevor and arranging a boat for him, but that was exactly the time he needed to come up with the perfect way to save himself. Ensuring that Carlo’s case gets assigned to his courtroom feels like it’s not going to be the easiest thing to pull off, and it’s sure to raise red flags given the highly publicized nature of Michael’s car being stolen and used in the hit-and-run that killed Rocco. It’s also likely to raise suspicion with Fia, who thinks Adam is just a friend of her brother’s who she’s started getting close to, when she realizes the unexpected connection her new boyfriend has to the judge who will decide if her living brother spends the rest of his life in prison. I find the lavish tales Michael spins to be a bit excessive and obvious, and there’s an unnecessary gravity to Bryan Cranston’s performance that doesn’t feel anywhere near as realistic or believable as his “Breaking Bad” character. I was worried that Lee was getting herself into trouble asking too many questions about Carlo, but it seems like she’s cleared that hurdle and is now sure to be upset, just as Charlie will be, when she learns that Michael is getting much more involved in this business than he should be and only burrowing into a deeper hole.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

What I’m Watching: Shameless

Shameless: Season 11, Episode 4 “Nimby” (B)

Parts of this episode felt a bit too formulaic and forced, and were really only worthwhile for the place they eventually got to. That’s truest of the Little Miss Southside pageant, where both Debs and Veronica gave in to their competitive instincts and ended up cancelling each other’s chances out, but it might have all not been for nothing since Veronica, despite being named as a drug dealer onstage, could have an unexpected political future as a result of her charged speech. The Milkoviches moving in next door to spew their racist views is probably something that should attract the attention of all the Gallaghers, but they seem too distracted for anyone other than Frank, Liam, and Kev to actually focus on that threat. Mickey and Ian getting hired to make weed deliveries is a smart plan, even if Mickey was able to seem like a military man by bragging about wiping out a village since he had no clue what conflicts were still ongoing when he was asked if he had served. I don’t know what exactly to make of Carl having to watch Leesie mistreat people and plant evidence, but at least he’s coming to terms with what he can do to make up in some small way for that general abuse of power. I was worried that Lip meeting Tami’s teacher who she was clearly still into would make him out to seem jealous, but instead Tami got to realize how wrong her situation was while Lip got the rare chance to be right. I was trying to figure out how I knew the actor, and seeing his name in the end credits reminded me that British actor Phillip Rhys was a part of one of the shows I first watched regularly, “24,” back in season two.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Round Two: Coyote

Coyote: Season 1, Episode 2 “Silver or Lead” (B)

This show is undeniably involving, setting itself mostly in one place and following the main characters as they try to escape the very literal desert. It’s all sort of like an extended version of the “Better Call Saul” episode from this past season, “Bagman,” though not quite as compelling. It was difficult to imagine that Ben could walk for so long with two extremely heavy bags across his shoulder, though Maria Elana was quick to point out that he was fat and the extra weight was only going to slow him down more. He had a few clever ideas on how to evade their trackers, and taking out his power tools to cut through the fence was an especially impressive move. I wasn’t sure why it was that he was able to return to Mexico without the very precious asset he had manage to get across, though I did think that maybe it was because anyone capable of getting into his daughter’s bedroom was probably just as capable of bringing Maria Elana back home even when she was already in border patrol custody waiting for asylum. It still would have been smart for Ben to share the fact that his daughter was in danger given the nature of their relationship, which of course he doesn’t know exists. It all made more sense when it was revealed that El Catrin was pulling the strings, sacrificing Dante’s happiness for something that he believes will be much more rewarding to his business. Dante torching the unbuilt house was a harsh but not unexpected form of revenge, and Ben is going to have an uphill battle to fight once he regains consciousness and gets called in to work.

What I’m Watching: Dickinson

Dickinson: Season 2, Episode 3 “The only Ghost I ever saw” (B)

I’m not so big on séances, and this episode gets a few points off because of some wasted moments trying to summon the spirits. Fortunately, it didn’t have too many of those, and instead we got some humorous modern-day commentary that did not sit well with most of the people in the circle and a serious realization that came to Emily as a result of her latest visit from her haunting visitor who pointedly asked if she was nobody too. That sermon in church got everyone riled up, and it’s good to see that the terrifying cousins are already making an impression, giving the minister the finger and causing plenty of other trouble. Both Emily and Lavinia were happy to invite them to join their séance, and I like that the two sisters seemed to be really on the same page for once since I often feel that Emily ignores Lavinia when they are uniquely qualified to see and understand each other. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Sue anymore, who was happy that Emily finally wanted to be known by others but couldn’t comprehend the hesitation she still felt about it. Samuel’s response was jarring and off-putting, going from his supercool “I’m a baller, I go to balls” to an attitude of complete detachment and lack of investment in her future. Lavinia’s objection to Ship’s casual chauvinism was pretty fantastic, even if people didn’t quite agree with her about it. Mrs. Dickinson’s nighttime excitement and the controversy of Henry’s anonymous newspaper were interesting subplots that I hope will soon be revisited.

Friday, January 8, 2021

What I’m Watching: Dickinson

Dickinson: Season 2, Episode 2 “Fame is a fickle food” (B+)

It was strange to see Emily in the spotlight in this episode, and it’s clear that she doesn’t handle attention all that well. Her cake was evidently delicious, but she was a bit too eager with sharing all of the ingredients, like the fact that she soaked it in brandy for a month, which seems excessive to me even though I’m hardly the most adventurous or experienced baker. The way she interacted with Samuel was intriguing, and they did share a connection even though he brought up the fact that she reminded him of his wife, which isn’t necessarily the obstacle it should be. Her recitation of the poem wowed him, though she received another grim visit from her hallucinated friend, who warned her of the dangers of fame and those who seek it for her. Mrs. Dickinson was quite startled and disappointed by Edward’s lack of interest in their special night together, and the two new additions to their household seem like an absolute nightmare. Sue really does enjoy the lavishness she has thanks to the Dickinson family’s wealth, and she did not respond well to Austin’s well-meaning request to discuss the idea of having a baby. I’m eager to see if anything happens between Jane and Austin since he’ll likely seek her companionship in the absence of attention from his wife. The two most memorable lines from the episode were Lavinia being told that “there are actually a lot of Native Americans in this time period” and the response to being asked about Morse code: “I’m fluent in it!”

What I’m Watching: Dickinson (Season Premiere)

Dickinson: Season 2, Episode 1 “Before I got my eye put out” (B+)

I’m happy that this show is back since I really did like season one, though it took me many months to finish it. I’m much more committed to getting through it more quickly this time, which will correspond with the more ideal airing schedule of three episodes premiering now followed by one new episode per week, rather than all ten installments at once. This episode started with a great opening montage after the melancholy introduction and did a formidable job of maintaining its very unique tone, which is alternately mysterious, humorous, casual, and devastating. I knew I recognized the rather hapless doctor in the beginning of the episode, and I spotted James Urbaniak’s name in the credits, who I recognize from “Difficult People.” Being told to avoid the sun isn’t actually a terrible recommendation given how much she loves being alone writing and dreaming of Sue. It’s odd to see what her relationship with Sue has become with Austin as their awkward go-between, and all Sue wants is the best for Emily, hoping to get her noticed at the party. The haunting presence of the man only she can see kept her from being able to deliver, and I’m sure she’ll only retreat further inward after this. I’m enjoying the new side of Lavinia, and I like this show’s embrace of current concepts like influencers and being cancelled, another slate of anachronisms to add to this show’s distinctive energy. Henry’s barn meetings are also an interesting subplot, and I’m eager to see what happens with all the supporting players this season.

Round Two: Call Me Kat

Call Me Kat: Season 1, Episode 2 “Double Date” (B)

It’s possible that my perception is this show is being positively influenced by the dearth of other original content out there, putting it up there with “B Positive” as a very traditional laugh-track sitcom that I’m still enjoying even though I don’t regularly watch many of them. Opening with the “oh, hello” and a metaphor about putting people in boxes made me think of Mr. Rogers, though Kat is certainly clumsier and more awkward, even if she too likes to see the good in disastrous situations. She and Max seem like a great pair, and it’s great that Brigitte is an actual character that she continues to imagine being in front her and obnoxious every time Kat thinks about what she would say. Max is also clueless, though it’s possible that he thinks they’re just best buds doing piano karaoke duets since she’s the one who mentioned seeing other people. Learning that Brandon wanted business advice did make a lot of sense, and at least she still got to use the microphone to pretend to be a track announcer. I was excited to see Lamorne Morris from “New Girl” as the non-tipper Daniel, a much more self-assured version of his “Woke” character who I hope will be around for a while to date Randi. Phil really does get all the best one-liners, and while some of his comments, like a mention of “sports ball,” weren’t slam dunks, marveling at the fact that Kat was able to spell diarrhea (I was too!) was considerably more entertaining.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

What I’m Watching: The Stand

The Stand: Season 1, Episode 4 “The House of the Dead” (B)

It’s interesting to see just how minimally both Flagg and Abagail are featured, though the influence they both carry is incredible. Nadine made a strong impression on Harold when she went to him and gave him the mission that Flagg has set for him, and it was useful to learn that Harold, unlike everyone else, wasn’t having the same dreams with Abagail in them as everyone else but instead latched on to the details others said so that he could pretend he was. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that casualties would come as a result of their subversive actions, and anyone who didn’t already suspect Harold was psychotic and dangerous isn’t likely to now see what he’s doing as any more suspicious. He wasn’t quite as brutal and heartless as the man who nearly killed both Harold and Frannie on the road, and it’s clear that Colorado is a utopia that’s about to implode as a result of Harold and Nadine’s efforts. The team of volunteers being sent to Las Vegas is an interesting development, and Tom sees set for his task even if it’s a risk to send him behind enemy lines when he might say something that he shouldn’t in service of completing his assigned task. Our introduction to Julie was very memorable, and the possession of a fierce survival instinct is definitely important in this world, even if you’re in the presence of two of the more harmless people, Nick and Tom. I’m intrigued to see where and how we’ll see her next.

Round Two: Mr. Mayor

Mr. Mayor: Season 1, Episode 2 “Mayor’s Day Out” (B)

I’m trying to get a handle on this show’s irreverence and how it balances that out with coherent and occasionally funny storylines. While I’m not overly fond of characters getting high and acting absurdly, Ted Danson does pull most things off pretty well, and he definitely managed to showcase enthusiasm for the meatless lunches and other moments of his very boring and procedural day. There’s still something disappointingly formulaic about the structure and the way that Tommy and Jayden need to program him, and I’m not entirely sure how long that’s going to last, especially if Neil isn’t going to be eating pot gummies every episode. There is a real immaturity to most of the characters on this show that’s most reminiscent of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” and I find myself wishing that this was a bit more like “30 Rock,” even if I don’t consider that show to be quite as unspectacular as most do. It had seemed in episode one like Mikaela was the smartest person on the staff, but it now seems that Arpi might have a much better idea of what she’s doing than she pretends. Mikaela was all about the selfies and trying to keep Arpi busy looking for tape for the whole day, but then we got that big reveal that she was flashing the PPPORN brochure during each of their meetings. It’s an evidently stupid name, but it does serve the dual purpose of attracting attention because of that and of enabling her to make her boss look like a fool, announcing her replacement name of RATFART instead.

Pilot Review: Mr. Mayor

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Pilot Review: Coyote

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

What I'm Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 5, Episode 5 “A Long Road Home” (B+)

I’m glad that this show is back so early in the new year since it was really a tease to have only four episodes back when it started in late October. I think viewers like me probably needed the closure with Marc even more than Kate did, and it was affirming to learn both that he reacted terribly to Kate showing up and almost telling him about her abortion, and that he hadn’t accomplished much with his life when she tracked him down in San Diego. The fact that he didn’t recognize her at first and had no concept of the negative impact he had on her life was indicative of how much he wasn’t right for her and how terrible he was. Randall finding out that his mother might have been alive until 2015 without him knowing and thinking that his father had lied to him was a gut punch, and Kevin deciding to call at that very moment to tell him how much he meant to his adopted family only made that more intense and complicated. Making that call was a big step, and Hai’s openness helped to clarify things, not that it will give him all that much more closure, although an in-person visit and tour through her memories likely will. Madison was understandably not comfortable with the idea of Kevin wanting to jet-set with the kids all the time, but it seems like he’s committed to at least seeing her perspective and finding something that can work for their growing family.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

What I’m Watching: Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist (Season Premiere)

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist: Season 2, Episode 1 “Zoey’s Extraordinary Return” (B+)

It feels good to have this show back right now. Its future was uncertain until more than a month after its first season ended, and it’s nice to approach it now knowing that it’s at least going to continue for the rest of the season. Meeting Zoey in such a place of grief made for a worthwhile reintroduction to this show’s universe and a gradual return to some sense of normalcy for our tortured protagonist. I liked the way the songs were incorporated into this episode and how they served to ground its story, with Zoey trying desperately not to let them take over even though she was powerless to stop them. Finding out that Max, Simon, and Mo are now best buds was a bit jarring, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that both of her would-be beaus are still pining for her. I’m happy with the choice that she made, though I’m sure it’s going to make things plenty awkward with Simon, who is already going to be tiptoeing around Zoey after she freaked out at him for asking her if she was okay. I presume that Joan is going to be appearing at lot less frequently, which I’m fine with since I never found her role to be all that consistent or worthwhile. I recognized actor Harvey Guillen, who plays new employee George, from his role as Guillermo on “What We Do in the Shadows,” and I hope that he proves to be a positive addition. I am glad to see that Emily is getting more of a focus after appearing in only surface storylines in season one, and I think that the loss of Mitch will provide many opportunities for worthwhile spotlights in the coming episodes.

Pilot Review: The Great North

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Pilot Review: Call Me Kat

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

Pilot Review: The Watch

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

What I’m Watching: Shameless Hall of Shame

Shameless Hall of Shame: Episode 2 “Kev and V: God Doesn’t Give with Both Hands” (B+)

The second installment of this nostalgia series felt very different from the first, as if Kev and V exist in a different universe than Ian and Mickey, who were barely present in any of these flashbacks. We also got to see a good amount of Fiona, and it makes me hopeful that she’ll get a retrospective episode too even though I realize that’s somewhat unlikely since I don’t believe that Emmy Rossum has any plans to return to the show. I forgot that Kev used to have a full head of shaggy hair, and I think his new look suits him. Centering the antics of this episode around the assessment that Amy takes after her mother and Gemma takes after her father was a clever way to come around to Gemma being creative and able to market a skill that doesn’t necessarily call for traditional intelligence. I definitely didn’t remember the numerous times that Kev had to have sex with V’s mom so that they could get pregnant, or that Kev had breast cancer. I had also forgotten how much Svetlana changed their dynamic with her incredible sexual prowess and then bought their business out from under them before V got her deported. It’s fun to see all the clips assembled in this way, with V having been a nurse coming up all the times that she showed up to diagnose something or suggest a way of dealing with an injury. It’s nice that these supporting characters really did get such a showcase and feel just as much like a part of the family as the Gallaghers.

What I’m Watching: Your Honor

Your Honor: Season 1, Episode 5 “Part Five” (B)

It’s hard to know where things could possibly go from here, since it didn’t take any time at all for Jimmy to deduce Michael’s direct involvement as soon as he found out from Big Mo that he really shouldn’t have bombed Kofi’s house since he wasn’t actually responsible for Rocco’s death. That was an impactful ending to the previous episode, and the sight of Eugene walking with a second line procession wearing a shirt featuring his deceased family members’ faces was indeed upsetting. It was fortunate at least that Big Mo was resolute in the way that she went boldly to Jimmy to tell him that war was coming unless he did, in his words, his due diligence and confirmed what he should have before Kofi died. Less fortunate was the fact that Michael’s lie about how someone was sleeping with his wife was so generously and immediately shared by the talkative convenience store clerk, who has now made it impossible for Michael to deny any involvement in Rocco’s death. Somehow, that wasn’t the most cringe-worthy moment of the episode, which instead found Adam seeking out Fia and flirting with her during a mock college interview. I’d argue that his actions most closely resemble the intense risk-taking popularized by Carrie on “Homeland,” which is not a good thing. Michael being blackmailed makes things even worse, though I’m curious if whoever it is who already knew that Adam was responsible will somehow end up shielding him from Jimmy’s wrath in an effort to get the money, but I can’t imagine that will be the case.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

What I’m Watching: The Crown (Season Finale)

The Crown: Season 4, Episode 10 “War” (B+)

It’s so interesting to compare this episode with the season two finale, which found a much younger Elizabeth and Philip confronting their marital difficulties. They’ve now come to a very different place, where Philip accepts the role that he’s been given and Elizabeth is bold enough to decree what she will and will not allow to happen. I recently read that both Josh O’Connor, who plays Charles, and Emma Corrin, who plays Diana, will compete as lead performers at the Golden Globes, which I think makes sense since so much of this season has been about them with Philip and even Elizabeth taking a major step back (Tobias Menzies is heading to the supporting race, while Olivia Colman remains a lead). Charles really does seem cruel after being such a genteel and sympathetic soul in season three, and Diana was so genuinely happy in New York, only to return home to find that Charles was furious at her for behaving in what he deemed was a frivolous manner. Their tableside conversation did seem like mediation at best and a contentious divorce hearing at worst, and the tough love that Elizabeth gave to her son is still more than she’s willing to offer the daughter-in-law she considers spoiled. I would recommend that this episode serve as a possible Emmy submission for Colman, who also nailed her scenes opposite an equally excellent Gillian Anderson as the now-defeated Margaret Thatcher, who didn’t want to go down without a fight. I think I liked season three best but there’s no arguing with this show’s quality, and I’m just sad that it will be back for two more seasons with a completely different set of actors since these have been absolutely terrific. Bring on the awards!

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Emma Corrin as Diana and Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher

Friday, January 1, 2021

What I’m Watching: The Crown

The Crown: Season 4, Episode 9 “Avalanche” (B+)

The date March 10th, 1988 was important here as when an avalanche nearly claimed the life of Prince Charles, but it’s also a significant day for me in that it’s when I was born. It’s strange to place these events at that time, especially because I remember learning about Princess Diana as a child when she died years later. The fear of Charles having died was a helpful trigger for a bit of marital intervention from Elizabeth and Philip, but the effort, however well-intentioned, backfired considerably when Diana got to speak and then Philip essentially told Charles that his opinion didn’t matter at all given that she had said she wanted to try. Anne’s damning report of their marriage to her mother was fairly honest, and somehow Diana got cast in a bad light for having multiple affairs while Charles’ longstanding romance with just one woman, Camilla, was somehow more excusable. She did get him a series of gifts she thought he would like that he completely detested, and things took a much more serious and disturbing turn by the end of the episode when he refused to take any of her calls. On a lighter note, I did appreciate Anne’s very dry summary of how no one lived happily after and Philips’ amused reaction to Elizabeth asking who Billy Jo-el was. There’s only one episode left this season, and it’s odd to think that it’s the last time we’ll see this cast since seasons five and six will bring all-new actors to revisit these same characters.